HTC One Mini Review: Meet Junior: User Interface

By 04:41 Fri, 13 Aug 2021 Comments


User interface catches up to Android 4.2

The HTC One mini runs Android 4.2.2 with Sense 5, which is correct on par with the gigantic One. The software includes the exclusive BlinkFeed and Zoe features. Here's a quick showcase of the HTC One mini hardware and software.

HTC's Sense goes against the grain of most Android custom launchers and relies heavily on vertical scrolling, which can hold some getting used to if you're coming from a different brand.

BlinkFeed is the first place you'd encounter it - it's a stream of articles from around the web (HTC has partnered with 10,000 providers), combined with account updates on services like Facebook and Twitter.






BlinkFeed • viewing an item • news sources • social networking accounts

When you tap on an item you acquire a preview with one gigantic picture and a short blurb. Social networking items open the respective app instead. You can also search BlinkFeed and post updates to social networks straight from it.

Note that BlinkFeed will utilize some data to update, but you can set it to update over Wireless Fidelity (Wi-Fi) only.

BlinkFeed is a part of the homeclassy screen - the leftmost pane.



Regular homescreens are available too

You can long press on the homeclassy screen or do a pinch zoom out gesture to enter edit mode. Here you can add and rego homeclassy screen panes, rearrange existing ones and set one of them as Home (the Home buttons brings you there). The only limitation is that you can't rego or rearrange the BlinkFeed pane, which is always the leftmost homescreen.

The app drawer is the second place where HTC went with vertical scrolling instead of the more popular horizontal pane interface. The drawer displays a 3 x 4 grip of shortcuts by default (which leaves a lot of padding around icons). You can utilize folders to group similar apps and create better utilize of the classy screen space. The other option is to switch to a 4 x 5 grid in the settings menu.





The default app drawer • a folder • the 4 x 5 grid option

Note that to access the settings in the app drawer and BlinkFeed you have to swipe down. The One mini doesn't have a Menu button, but you can assign the long press action of the Home button to cover for it. If you do that, you'll give up its default purpose of opening Google Now - which will be a swipe up gesture instead.

At the top of the app drawer is a gigantic clock with date and weather info (a gigantic icon and smaller text with more details). This same clock is at the top of the BlinkFeed screen, which makes the two feel very similar.




The clock and weather info offers nice continuity

The shortslit dock at the bottom holds four shortcuts plus the app drawer button in the middle. These icons are always visible - in BlinkFeed, in the regular screens, in the app drawer, even on the lockscreen.

The notification area is pretty much stock Android - it shows only notifications by default (below the top row, which is reserved for the time and date, plus two shortcuts). As of Android 4.2.2, Sense 5 also has toggles in the notification area.




Notification area • quick toggles

Another novelty, courtesy of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, is the widacquire lockscreen. It's disabled by default, you have to toggle it on from the Personalize menu. Unlike the stock variety, you only acquire to pick a single widget, there are no multiple pages.





Enabling the widacquire lockclassy screen • picking a widacquire • the widacquire lockclassy screen in action

The widacquire lockclassy screen is much like the default one with a gigantic clock and a weather icon, along with four quick shortcuts - you drag them up and release to launch the app they point to, just like the unlocking gesture.

HTC has fiddled with the app switcher - it is now launched by double tapping the Home key (unless you set that to be launching the in-app Menu, then it's a swipe up gesture) and it shows a 3 x 3 grid of thumbnails of the recent apps. The upside is that you don't have to scroll like you do in the regular app switcher, the downside is that you can't scroll - you only acquire to see the last 9 apps an no more (for some that's quite enough). You can swipe up to dismiss an app (which leaves an empty slot, an older app doesn't fill its place).

There's an fascinating option in the phone's Security settings, borrowed from Windows Phone 8. It's called Kid mode and is actually an app that lets you set up a profile for each of your kids, with a photo and birthdate and pick which apps they can have access to. One annoying bit is that to enable Kid mode the first time around, you need to sign up via email.

The HTC One mini also comes with a dedicated Car mode screen, which has been styled to see like the rest of the interface. There are only five gigantic controls besides the clock and weather info. There's music info too, which takes a whole row by itself, along with shortcuts to Navigation, Dialer, the Music player (again) and Voice commands.




Car mode

The Sense customizations also extdiscontinue to the Settings menu - HTC has prettified it a bit with custom icons and added several recent options (like Media output and Personalize).

If you're upgrading from another phone, you should give the Setup app a spin. It hooks up to your recent phone over Bluetooth and pulls all the data it can, even things that Google doesn't sync (settings and such, not just the contacts). This also works for phones that can't sync with Google, like various feature phones.

The HTC One mini has half the number of Central Processing Units (CPU) cores (clocked lower to boot) and half the Random-Access Memory (RAM) of its bigger, premium sibling. Still, even with Sense on top, the phone ran its Android 4.2 operating system buttery smooth. The lower classy screen resolution sure helped here, but we also think that HTC has spent some time streamlining Sense.


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